Which of the following are examples of Kantian noumena?

a) Higgs boson particle
b) A table
c) A newly discovered planet
d) All and none of the above

[Mel Thompson - Philosophy in a week]

The answer written at the back of the book is d. But I don't understand why answer is d. Answer d seems to have two sides: "All of the above" and "none of the above". I can understand the latter but not the former, please help me!

  • 3
    By definition, it is impossible to know the noumenon (we can't even know if it has parts, that is, objects; thing-in-itself does not mean a direct correspondence between a physical thing and a portion of the noumenon). Your examples are either phenomena (when physical) or ideals (when rational). "All and none of..." is an oxymoron. Philosophy in a week is not the same as Philosophy.
    – RodolfoAP
    Commented Mar 21 at 8:52

1 Answer 1

  1. It's all of the above, because any object is a noumenon, an object of thought but not of experience, if we abstract from our specific forms of sensibility - time and space. An appearance (or: phenomenon) is a noumenon as it appears to us in experience, so it's another aspect of this noumenon.
  2. It's none of above, because, as empirical appearances, that is: as objects that we know empirically to be planets, tables, bosons etc. they're not noumena, because to consider them as noumena means to abstract from the forms of sensibility (space and time) which make their presence in experience, and thus classifying them under such concepts, possible.

If you're interested in learning more about this, you can read the Preface to the second ("B") edition of the Critique of Pure Reason where Kant explains the necessity of the distinction and its nature. It's quite short, albeit Kant isn't the clearest writer.

  • Your #1 makes no sense. None of the listed things are noumena. Commented Mar 21 at 18:53
  • @DavidGudeman How does it make no sense? Perhaps it's not strict, but it follows Kant's own discussion in the Preface to the second edition of the first Critique and the Analytic of Principles section on the distinction. I think you don't understand the purpose of my answer, though. I was trying to make sense of why the author formulated the answer in this odd way. Commented Mar 21 at 19:42
  • Can you give a quote from the preface? Commented Mar 21 at 21:49
  • @DavidGudeman "the distinction, which our Critique has shown to be necessary, between things as objects of experience and those same things as things in themselves" (Bxxvii) Commented Mar 22 at 12:49
  • I mean a quote where he says that an object of thought can be a noumenon. My understand of Kant is that he denied that noumena can be objects of thought. Commented Mar 22 at 17:26

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